Herald Column: August 15

Worthing’s Breathe Easy Group certainly know how to hold a party. There was more cake than you could shake a stick at for their 20th birthday party at Field Place last Friday. The Group began in 1999 when the British Lung Foundation came to Brighton and invited people to attend who were on GP and Hospital lists diagnosed with lung conditions in order to start a local support Group.

Since then they have provided advice and support to people suffering from pulmonary and other breathing conditions in the area and meet at Field Place on the 2nd Friday afternoon of every month. Respiratory diseases affect one in five people in the UK and is the third biggest cause of death yet receives much less attention and research funding than cancer and heart disease for example. Chairman Sheila Hall and her team do a great job in raising awareness and help for people with what can often seem a lonely condition and would welcome more members. Find out more at www.blf.org.uk

Earlier on I met management from Glaxo Smith Kline following their announcement that they are withdrawing from the manufacture of injectable Augmentin at their Worthing site which was due to expand. This is a great blow after the original proposal which promised a record investment in Worthing and came out of the blue. Contrary to a lot of misinformation circulating it has nothing to do with Brexit and GSK are not transferring production abroad but withdrawing from the whole market on commercial grounds.

I have had a number of emails from constituents rightly concerned that the whole process has not been handled well and it is currently the subject of a consultation process with further news expected in September and likely redundancies not happening until later in 2020. I made a number of suggestions about local agencies they should be talking to as well as likely other parties who may want to take on their now surplus capacity hopefully to generate alternative job opportunities and I sought assurances about the sustainability on the remaining 400 jobs and research capability. They will also be holding jobs fairs and other opportunities to help affected employees get new jobs which is the least they can do.

Well done to the ‘Space at the Table’ project which I visited at the Lancing Tabernacle Church in Lancing last week. Throughout the summer holiday a partnership of volunteers between the Tab, Lancing Lions and Electric Storm Youth are providing lunch and a meeting place for local families, particularly aimed at children receiving free school meals during term time. And very good it was too.